As part of our visit, we stayed at three hotels in Gozo owned by Victor Borg group. The smaller island of Gozo lies just off Malta but has a very different feel to it as it is greener and life is at a much slower pace. There are usually two ferries an hour between Malta and Gozo, the €4.75 return ticket excellent value. Buses all go via the town of Victoria (also referred to as Rabat by locals) in the centre of the island, and prices are similar to the mainland but tickets are not transferable between the two.
We caught the bus to Cirkewwa for the ferry, a straight through journey but an incredible amount of road works at the moment with the major coast road closed off in one direction and a very long diversion – do not moan about UK roads again! It is a good sized ferry, snack bars on board and comfortable seating. Get straight off and onto the 301 bus into Victoria bus station. We wanted the bus to Xlendi our first hotel, then found the driver just changed the number of the bus and we got back on again! Therefore, make sure you tell the driver where your final destination is as he may well be going there too.
Saint Patrick’s Hotel, Xlendi
You go down a steep hill into the village of Xlendi in a small bay, the Saint Patrick’s Hotel right opposite the bus stop. What a fantastic view from the bedroom balcony! This is the perfect position to walk and explore the coastline, hop on the bus back to Victoria, or just sit beside the lapping sea on the hotel terrace – plus obligatory glass of wine of course! This was Sunday lunchtime, so there were lots of families out for lunch, couples chatting and drinking wine.
The receptionist was helpful and friendly, and we would certainly be happy to stay here for longer than our one night. It was a lovely comfy room, spacious and clean with a fantastic balcony overlooking the bay. There was a voucher with the registration forms for 20% discount on dinner in the restaurant or a free bottle of wine, so both are good options.
Dinner in their restaurant was really good – even the starter of garlic mushrooms we shared was the best we have ever had. The head waiter even divided this up for us in two dishes to share so that we ‘didn’t have to argue about who had more than the other’ – brilliant! Glad we stayed here for a meal as it was well worth it. Spaghetti di Mare was magnificent as we have never seen so much seafood with a whole dish full of shells at the end. The herb-encrusted salmon had a soft, delicate taste and was served with a good mix of roast vegetables and little roast potatoes.
Excellent presentation, this was definitely at the high end of 4*. The Victoria Heights chardonnay from Gozo was very drinkable, especially with the fish. It is worth a visit for a meal even if you are not staying in the hotel. There are lots of different types of room facing the sea, the front (views of hills in distance) or the internal courtyard, plus a suite with an open balcony overlooking the bay where they will serve a romantic meal to your table.
Cornucopia Hotel & Bungalows, Xaghra
Staying with the public transport, we moved to the Cornucopia Hotel in Xaghra. Personally? Take a taxi as it will cost about the same to go across the island as from Victoria. We asked the bus driver if Xhagra was last stop, he said yes, then he would turn around and go back to Victoria. Half a dozen stops around the village when we realised we were already on our way back to Victoria! Defeated, we took a taxi for €10 which is about the same for the full journey. The hotel is a good 10 minute walk from the middle of the town so would be difficult with large suitcases, but otherwise easy enough to find from the central plaza.
The Cornucopia is a renovated traditional farm, only two stories and lots of little areas around a central courtyard. Although you can get to the restaurant OK, there is no wheelchair access to the rooms as there is just no way it can be accommodated with this structure. The rooms are comfy, spacious, and we had a great view over the countryside down to the sea. Low season is November to end of March so they have some good deals. With 50% regular repeat customers, they are clearly consistent in level of service. The most surprising, though, is the group of 11 bungalows built into the hillside across the road, so discreet we would have had no idea they were there. They are beautifully appointed, with all amenities you could want (can be on B&B or half-board as well if you want) and fantastic views.
If we had not seen these, we would have thought “ well yes, it is a nice hotel” but seeing the bungalows means we would love to stay here to relax, walk or write (of course). Dinner was good especially the Tiramisu, with very attentive staff, and the hot breakfast dishes were actually hot. As we just had one night here, the manager Brian graciously offered to drive us to the last hotel across the island – I think he was worried we would keep coming back to the same place on the bus!
Hotel Ta’ Cenc & Spa, Sannat
The final hotel in the group is the 5* Hotel Ta’ Cenc &Spa, and you feel relaxed as soon as you arrive. Excellent staff, especially the young man who took us and the luggage to the room then worked all day and evening in the bar! It was a lovely room, single storey accommodation with door leading out to terrace and the pool areas. They have some bigger suites, very luxurious, and some individual domed-roof bungalows for families. Lots of comfy sofas in the lounge and bar areas so there is plenty of space to relax with a very good cappuccino.
Dinner was exceptional, choosing from a set menu at €30 or an a la carte choice. We missed out the starter section of risotto or pasta – just too much for us – so the other courses were perfect. We started with melt-in-the-mouth beef roulade and ricotta, then fillet of sea bream with olives, capers and tomatoes and my grilled vegetable tartlet with the most divine cheese fondue imaginable. There was a wide choice from the dessert menu to finish. This was really a fantastic meal and well worth €52 for both of us. We would love to stay here again.
Gozo is a great place to stay, much more easy going than Malta but still with lots happening during the year. They now have a coastal walk all around the island, and the guide is excellent – it gives distances between places, locations of cafes and toilets along the way, plus an indication of the level of difficulty. Next time we visit, we will do this walk and stay at hotels along the route.
You may also enjoy reading:
- Gozo: an island with the lightest touch, Headwater
- Malta, travel to a touch of England in the Med
- Mellieha, Malta
- Things to do and attractions in Gozo
- Things to do and attractions in Malta
- Travelling around Malta by bus, on foot and visiting Comino
- Read Malta Hotels – Part 1
- Read Malta Hotels – Part 2